Town Crier Sports Staff
It was only appropriate that East Poinsett County and Riverside played for the Gerald Jennings Holiday Tournament Championship Saturday afternoon at Lake City. After all, the tournament's namesake had spent the majority of his career as superintendent of both schools.
EPC came into the championship game with a perfect 7-0 mark, but had to hold off a determined Lady Rebel team as they claimed the title with a 68-51 victory in a game much closer than the final score indicated.
EPC led 17-9 after the first quarter and held a 32-25 advantage at the half. The Lady Warriors stretched their lead to 50-38 entering the final quarter, but Riverside cut the lead to single digits when Kelsey Turner ripped a three pointer from deep in the right corner, making the score 54-45 with 4:14 left in the game.
EPC's Carla Kemp answered with a 15-footer to push the lead to 56-45, and when Jordan Madden came away with a loose ball and drove for two, the Lady Warriors had the game safely in hand at 58-45 with 3:17 to go. Riverside's Kailey Holt hit a three pointer to cut the lead to10, but that was as close as the Lady Rebels would get.
"I have been worried about this game ever since I saw the tournament bracket," said EPC Coach Bobby Lewallen. "I was glad to see Riverside was on the opposite side from us, because I know how good they are. Coach Rainwater does a real good job. I feel fortunate to come out of here with a win and I am glad we don't have to play them again. But we played very well during the entire tournament and I thought it was a complete team effort. It was fitting for these two teams to meet in the finals because of Mr. Jennings. It was good to see the family here and it was just a big win for us."
"I thought we did a pretty good job," said Riverside Coach Greg Rainwater. "We were playing against a really good basketball team, one that is well coached and very athletic. That is a lethal combination. We hung right with them and gave a good effort. We had some unforced turnovers that hurt us in the second half, especially in the fourth quarter. We did a lot of things well. We just came up short to a very, very good basketball team."
Sade Madden led all scorers with 24 points while sister Jordan Madden added 21 more. LaPorscha Williams pumped in 13. Kemp and Jocelyn Joplin scored four points apiece while Katelyn Armstrong added two. The Lady Warriors hit 9-14 from the foul line and drilled three treys on the afternoon.
Riverside was led by sophomore Brianna Driver who poured in 21 points. Kailey Holt and Katey Campbell scored nine points apiece, Morgan Emery had four, Marisa Johnson and Kelsey Turner netted three points each while Katlin Brewer added two. The Lady Rebels hit 7-14 free throws and nailed four three pointers.
In the junior high championship, Valley View defeated Paragould 43-29.
Riverside advanced to the finals with a thrilling 43-42 victory over Paragould in Thursday night's semi-final round.
Paragould's Whitney Poe gave the Lady Rams a 42-41 lead with 32 seconds left in the final frame. Riverside sophomore Katey Campbell was fouled on the Lady Rebels next possession and calmly sank the winning free throws with 24 seconds remaining. Paragould had a chance to pull out the win but missed a pair shots in the waning seconds, sending the Lady Rebels to the championship round.
Riverside hit 24-32 free throws, including 11-16 in the final quarter. Brianna Driver led the Lady Rebels with 14 points while Campbell scored 11, including a 9-10 performance from the foul line. Marisa Johnson scored seven, Kailey Holt had six, Kelsey Turner netted four, while Morgan Emery added one.
Mikka Jaggers led Paragould with 11 points.
Riverside led 15-6 after the first quarter, 21-18 at the half, and 32-26 after three periods.
The Junior Lady Rebels won their first round game by knocking off third seeded Manila, 28-20. Ashley Calvert led the way with eight points while Kyley Campbell and Magan Wells added seven points apiece. Michelle Cobb scored four while Kendra Staggs tallied two.
Manila's Savannah Jones led all scorers with 12 points. Meagan Presson scored four points while Jordan Robertson and Jonna Dodd added two points each.
The Junior Lady Rebels fell to Paragould in the semi-finals 32-22. Paragould's Kobi Smith paced the Lady Rams with 16 points.
Michelle Cobb led Riverside with seven points while Kyley Campbell had six points and four assists. Magan Wells added five points and grabbed seven rebounds while Ashley Calvert and Courtney Thomas added two points apiece.